Madigan learned his trade from a more effective boss, Richard J. Daley, who was mayor of Chicago from 1955-1977.
Today Dave McKinney of Reuters excoriates Illinois' tyrant.
But if Daley's Chicago was "the city that works," a nickname coined during his tenure, Madigan's Illinois is the state that doesn't work. The speaker is one of America's most powerful politicians, presiding over arguably its most dysfunctional state capital.
Illinois is beyond broke. It is the first state in at least eight decades to go without an annual budget, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Its bond ratings, the lowest of any state, are near junk status. It is projected to have a budget deficit this fiscal year of $5.3 billion and owes vendors about $10.8 billion in unpaid bills.
Its pension system, serving more than 815,000 public employees and retirees, was tied with Kentucky's system for the lowest funding ratio among states, at 37.6 percent, according to a 2014 ranking by Pew Charitable Trusts. Unfunded liabilities stood at $129.8 billion last June, up from $2.5 billion in 1971, the year Madigan joined the Legislature.
Pension obligations are now projected to consume about a quarter of state operating revenues every year through 2044, raising the specter of steep tax hikes or deep cuts to public services. The state's unpaid bills could reach $47 billion by 2022, Republican Governor Bruce Rauner's administration has predicted.